2014 [GREEK]

Drama / Romance

IMDb Rating 6.7 10 3919

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gre 2.0
24 fps
2 hr 8 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by EdgarST 10 / 10

Winner Best Film Award - Hellenic Film Institute

The movie «Xenia» (with the accent on the i, but I will not tell you what it is in the story) is more Aristotelian than other Greek adventures of recent vision, with a "secure structure" built on cause and effect, and it is also more sentimental, more melo-Greekly passionate... And very gay in tone (by courtesy of director Panos Koutras), although no sexual orientation is the core of the plot. It has to do with two brothers born in Crete, children of an Albanian woman who has just died and a Greek man who abandoned them. Suddenly the younger one realizes that his brother and he were not recognized, they have no documents, they are strangers in their own land, so out they go in search of their (s.o.b.) father, while some dreams are sought after and a maturing process leads them to their goals. Excellently played by the two leading actors, Kostas Nikouli and Nikos Gelia, the film combines the harsh realities of xenophobia and privation with beautiful scenes, like a brief night cruise by boat, while the boys sleep on board and on the shore the vessel is escorted by the entities in their fantasies during childhood, a period signed by abuse (David Lynch would applaud) and some surprises like Dido, the rabbit. «Xenia» won the Hellenic Film Academy awards for Best Motion Picture, Direction, Screenplay, Supporting Actor, Editing and Costumes; and the Best Film Award at the festivals of Gijón and Chicago.

Reviewed by t-dooley-69-386916 9 / 10

Beautiful and Endearing Greek Film

Dany and Ody are brothers who have not seen each other for a while. Then Dany turns up in Piraeus to tell Ody that their flamboyant Albanian mother has dies and that they need to find their estranged Greek father – and to enter Ody in 'Greek Star' – a talent show of all talent shows. Oh yes and to get Greek citizenship and thus avoid being deported.

So begins the odyssey and it is necessary to point out that Dany is gay and fairly extrovert and the film takes a few minutes to warm up and I implore you to stay with it – you will be well rewarded. It has surreal moments to including one with a big bunny rabbit – but 'Donnie Darko' this ain't.

The enthusiasm for the characters and the care in which they are played shines through the screen. There is also a plethora of supporting players and I loved nearly all of them. Plus we get some great song and dance routines and a soundtrack that makes you want to get up and join in. I simply adored this film it left me in a great mood and I was miffed when it ended such is the fun of this journey. If you do not mind a bit of surrealism and can still believe in dreams or you just want a great loving film then this is one you will not wish to miss.

Reviewed by Radu_A 8 / 10

Most original (and least bleak) recent Greek social drama

In the past years, whenever I see a Greek film, I brace myself for depictions of social degradation and individual misery, which is sometimes well established and played out, and sometimes heavy-handed and riddled with clichés. 'Xenia' is the first one which I believe to manage a balance between its story, social themes, and symbolism - but at times it also feels quite uneven. While it does come quite close to being one of the most remarkable European films of late, some scenes are written better than others, which could have used less dialog or more cuts.

Dany, a gay adolescent with bleached hair, playful attitude and increasingly obvious psychological problems, makes his way from Crete to Athens to inform his brother Ody, who works in a fast food place and appears more grounded, of the death of their mother. Since she was Albanian, they decide to locate their father who left them soon after Dany's birth - because once they turn 18 they are subject to deportation if they cannot prove Greek relatives. They manage to find an old friend of their mother who helps them with their search. But Dany's tendency to run into trouble soon makes things more complicated.

The nice thing about 'Xenia' is that its characters are deeply symbolic, but so complicated that their various clichés appear realistic. The names Dany (for Daniel) and Ody (for Odysseus) are already charged, both of them mythological figures who have to overcome extreme challenges. Dany isn't just very obviously gay and troubled, but has beautifully displayed visions which make it difficult to tell where the dream ends and reality begins. Ody isn't just the caring elder brother, but has inherited singing talent from his mother and strives to show it. The various secondary characters are likewise both stereotypical and complicated, as the flamboyant gay club manager with a genuine motherly affection for migrants, or the family-deserting father who turns right-wing politician.

These are spiked with scenes of social conflict and symbolic realism, all of which result in a very original style reminiscent of Almodovar, as exemplified by cameos and songs of 60's Italian sensation Patty Pravo. However, symbolism is Xenia's biggest charm. For instance, the title refers to an abandoned hotel in which the brothers take temporary refuge - the irony being that 'xenia' means 'hospitality', thus the ruin becomes a metaphor for present Greece itself. If you are able to catch all these allusions and do not mind that the story is somewhat lost, you're in for a real treat with this one. If, however, you like linear storytelling and character development, there's a good chance you will loathe this.

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